In the age of distraction, Ryuta Shiiki figured out a way to get the undivided attention of 37 million people for three minutes.

Whenever the lights dim in a movie theater run by Toho Co., the nation's largest chain, animated characters from Shiiki's DLE Inc. appear, urging the audience to silence their phones and refrain from talking.

DLE and the movie theater unit of Toho, the creator of "Godzilla," announced plans Wednesday to use the slot between trailers and the feature as a content incubator starting next month, pitting new characters in a popularity contest and sharing the intellectual property rights.